Who Says You Can Never Go Home Again?Michael raised the numbered panel with the hope that Simon wouldn’t notice. He kept his hand low, hopefully out of sight from the refreshment table. He had promised not to buy any more art, reluctantly agreeing to bid on nothing but furniture.
Simon did have a valid point, as a few months prior Michael had been forced to rotate the pieces hanging in their apartment. Otherwise, the walls became too cluttered. And those in storage were admittedly taking over the spare room already. But something in the pastoral piece really spoke to him. “Farm Girl with Rake” was just too tempting. He’d make it up to his man later, when and if he won lot 26.
Though the field beyond the youth didn’t look anything like his childhood home in South Africa, the serene expression on her face brought those happy days very much to mind. And suddenly he knew why. The young woman looked almost exactly like his late mother.
Granted, what he could see of her hair lacked the metallic sheen. But the sky appeared cloudy and the bonnet covering her head kept the upswept locks mostly hidden. So that could be her shade, the same copper curling from beneath the brim of Michael’s fedora.
More importantly, the subject’s sweet face displayed the strong Dutch heritage his Mama’s had shown. Embarrassingly, the unexpected recognition made his eyes sting.
“Do I hear ¥35,000,000? Thank you, sir. ¥40,000,000?”
Vision blurring, Michael blindly lifted his paddle to bid against his unknown rival. He pretended to have something in his eye, though he knew Simon would never be fooled if he saw.
An unexpected competitive side emerged as the figure soared to a ridiculously high sum of yen. And still he bid, and still the total grew.
“¥95,000,000? Wonderful. Your generosity is appreciated, sir.”
At this rate Michael feared he would be serving Simon nothing but rice and noodles for dinner. Then again, he reminded himself proudly, Simon’s firm ran their own hydroponics gardens. What was he worried about? Well, other than potentially ticking off the love of his life.
Where was Simon? Though rapidfire, the bidding war had continued to the point he surely should have finished his tea by now. But the fundraiser’s sponsor still hadn’t returned to his reserved seat. Michael wondered if the man had stepped into the outer hall to take an important call or something. He’d better come back soon or Michael’s personal savings would be forfeit. All he’d need to do was give his patented “Stop right now, Michael” look to end this.
He saw the dark suit come into his peripheral vision first. Michael looked up and dropped his numbered sign contritely. The face didn’t display the telltale glower. Instead, strong features had softened lovingly and Simon held the victorious paddle aloft and faced the auctioneer.
“Sold! For ¥95,000,000.”
“Let’s go home, Michael. I know just the place to hang it.”
Author's Note: This was inspired by a lovely painting of a young girl carrying a primitive rake. A talented acquaintance of a friend captured true beauty in the old-fashioned, pastoral scene. This ficlet features characters from a science fiction tale and was my contribution to the picture prompt challenge on our Artist's Retreat. I hope you enjoyed it.